Welcome to Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie's personal website

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Toting, Domestic Workers During the Great Depression

African women and men at a community Brunswick stew event in the south, recipes 
Yes it’s true that the majority of African-American women working as domestics in the Jim Crow south earned shamefully low wages as portrayed in the movie The Help. Many domestics took action to improve their compensation such as the practice of toting. In Depression era Savannah, Georgia Lorena Hickok, who worked for FDR’s administration, observed, “if you hire a cook down here, that means you take on the job of feeding, not only the cook, but her whole family.” Because, before they go home, they “clean out your ice box every night.” White patrons had become so accustomed to toting that they did their shopping and “marketing with that in mind. It’s considered just as regular as tipping a waitress in Childs’ [restaurant] in New York.” 

My Series on The Help: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=The+help

Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors After the Civil War: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?recid=26520&content=toc

Food and 1492 Part 1

WPA Writing on New York City Foodways